Tag Archives | green families

6 Healthy Back To School Lunchtime Snacks

 

Fall is right around the corner, and that means it’s back to school for children, teens, and young adults across the country. For parents, that means it’s time to handle getting lunches packed, balanced breakfasts on the table, and sleepyheads out of bed!

I always get a wonderful nostalgic feeling from the end of summer, back-to-school time. It always reinvigorates me and makes me excited to try new things and make changes in my life, even though my own schooldays are long past. I think part of this has definitely been from raising Eben! 

Watching him go through the process of starting a new grade each year has been so rewarding and inspiring (and now, he’s applying to Graduate School, can you believe it!) I always want to support him and his efforts at school, and part of that means making sure he’s well fed and properly fueled so his brain can do all that learning each day (at least until he leaves us!)

One of the things I like to try and do each year is come up with new types of healthy snacks. Kids always seem drawn to any kind of single-serving snacks and fun foods—just think about those awful packaged varieties that your kids have probably begged you to buy while shopping. Packing the same things all the time gets boring and doesn’t offer much variety in terms of vitamins and minerals, which only eating a broad diet can do.

If you’re stumped for new ideas when packing lunches, here are some of our favorites, which I’m sure your kids will love, too:

  • Fruit Skewers: Use whatever fruits you have on hand (melons, apples, clementines, grapes, etc.) and stick bite-sized chunks onto wooden skewers or reusable plastic or metal skewers if you want to be extra eco-conscious. These colorful snacks are fun to eat and easy to share with friends at school!

  • Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter & Pretzels: This fun, dippable snacks make eating healthy nut butter a breeze. Eben loves these so much he had already gone through the package of them before school started! Like a healthier version of Nutella, these snacks feel like an indulgence, but they’re made from high-quality, all-natural ingredients with a focus on sustainability. Definitely a winner!

  • Fruit and Vegetable Chips: Whether you choose to make these in the oven, dehydrator, or buy them from your local health food store (such a variety is available these days!), fruit or vegetable chips are a great way of making healthy eating fun and delicious for kids. The possibilities are endless: apples, sweet potatoes, kale, zucchini, eggplant, all with any combination of flavored salts, herbs, and spices.

  • Stonyfield Organics YoKids Squeezers: This squeezable yogurt is both healthy and tasty. Eben loves the Cherry and Berry flavor pack, and they never come home uneaten when I pack them in his lunch! As with all of the Stonyfield products, they are organic certified by the USDA and made with pasture-raised milk.

  • Nuts and Seeds: I buy organic nuts and seeds in bulk at Costco and pack them in Eben’s lunch every day. They are the perfect snack to grab right before a big test or for an after-lunch pick-me-up!

  • Homemade Granola Bars: Unlike their store-bought counterparts, when you make granola bars at home, you don’t need to add any processed sugars and can control exactly what goes into them. There are endless healthy granola bar recipes online, and I guarantee at least one of them can be made with whatever you have in your cupboards right now!

What about you? Do you have any favorite back-to-school snack ideas that your kids devour? Or any packing secrets or life-changing products you can’t do without? I’d love to hear about them—the more inspiration, the better!

4 Benefits of Growing and Cooking Your Own Food

Food is one of the most important basic needs, so it’s important to ensure you and your family get the best food. One way to do this is to start growing and cooking your own food. Read on to see four benefits you can get from growing and cooking your own food at home.

1. You’re Sure of What You’re Eating

When you grow your own food, you’re more sure of what goes into your food. This is important for you and your family’s health as it reduces the risk of consuming unsafe food products. This is evidenced by the fact that there are recalls every now and then after particular foods are found to be harmful, contaminated, or that don’t meet health standards. For example, the largest food recall in history was issued in 2008, leading to a recall of more than 3,200 products. Most crops are easy enough to grow and you can search for and find fun recipes to make on the internet. This would be a great decision to make for the sake of your continued good health.

2. You Spend More Time Outdoors

It’s always beneficial to spend more time outdoors as it can boost your mood quickly and easily. If you have a garden, it can be a lot easier for you to spend time outdoors in a productive way. The effort you make to plant, tend to, and harvest the food you grow will be great exercise for you as well. The fact that you can involve your whole family in gardening at home makes it a great activity to do as well, so you should think about getting a small shovel or other gardening tools for each member of your family and invite them to join you on a few gardening trips.

3. You Can Learn New Methods of Doing Things

Cooking your own food can become the best way to learn a new skill and gain more knowledge than you currently have. For instance, if you want to cook with wood, according to Food and Wine, you should look for wood that has been seasoned for at least one year. This wood should either be kiln-dried to a moisture content of between 6% and 8% or generally have a moisture content of less than 20%. Facts such as these can come in handy in a number of circumstances and improve your life in more ways than you can think of.

4. You Get Fresher Food

Finally, starting a garden avails more abundant and fresher food for you if you do it right. This can help you cut back on the trips you make to the grocery store to buy food, most of which is taxed. You can also help to improve the state of the environment as you add more greenery to it. In this way, you make a considerably smaller carbon footprint as well. You can tell that the food you grow is truly fresh by checking how green its stalk is something that can be affected by the season in which you grow the food. For example, leaves change color during autumn because of changes in the number of chemical pigments in the leaves. Leaves produce less chlorophyll as the days get shorter, and this is the chemical that makes them green. This change allows other pigments, including red, orange, and yellow to show through in this season.

These four benefits that you can enjoy when you grow and cook your own food should be motivation enough to make you start doing it. Remember that you can always start small and build up to more over time as you get more comfortable.

Helping Holidays: 4 Green Gifts That Give Back

 

The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.

1. Warby Parker Glasses
Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.

+ Warby Parker  

2. Feed Bags
I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.

+ FEED Projects

3. TOMS Shoes
Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!

+ TOMS

4. Bogo Brush
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Bogo Brush! Bogo Brush is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly toothbrush made from waste – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ BOGO BRUSH

Do you have a favorite gift to give that gives back too?

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

Hello, Friends! I am pretty excited, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year. Most gatherings will be super small or social distanced.

Either way, it will still be a ton of fun and work! To get you started, there are many eco-friendly ways to green your Thanksgiving dinner – all of which are easier to implement if you plan ahead. Many of these ideas will save you money and time while cutting down on the amount of waste that can accumulate from a big family dinner. Read on to learn my 5 favorite eco-friendly ways to plan your Thanksgiving dinner and start planning today!

1. Decorating 101
You don’t have to spend any money when decorating for Thanksgiving, instead use items that you already have or consider bringing natural items indoors. We always have a handful of pumpkins leftover from Halloween that we use as Thanksgiving decorations. And Eben and I like to take a nature walk to collect natural elements (pine-cones, acorns, branches, and leaves) to display as our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

2. How Much is Enough?
It is really easy to go overboard when planning the Thanksgiving menu. Consider the dishes that you will be serving and ask yourself if you are making more than is necessary. Choose a few dishes that you are sure your guests will love and skip the rest. Also, consider which parts of Thanksgiving dinner you want to or can afford to purchase organic and whenever possible, avoid pre-packaged items.

3. Consider the Table
Do you have enough dinnerware for everyone at your dinner party? If not, consider borrowing place settings from close friends or family members instead of purchasing new. If you aren’t a china and tablecloth kind of family and choose to go with disposable place settings, choose a great compostable version that is made from 100% recycled materials.

4. Think Seasonal
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving menu, think seasonal. You want to avoid purchasing produce that is imported from far away. You may consider joining a local CSA for the holiday season – not only will you have delicious, local foods to serve this Thanksgiving, but you will be supporting a local farm too.

5. Plan for Leftovers
What do you plan to do with the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? If you are planning on sending goodies home with your guests, have glass reusable storage containers ready to go. If you made more than your family can consume, you could donate some of the leftovers to a local food bank, freeze them for later or have a menu plan for the days after Thanksgiving so all of the leftovers will be used.

How do you green your Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to hear – please share your thoughts in the comments!

20 Best North Carolina High Country Fall Family Activities + Rent Our Mountain House!

As soon as September arrives, I always start dreaming of a fall family trip to North Carolina.

I love living in Florida, but since the mister and I both grew up out west, we start to crave fall weather and the changing colors! Getting away to see the leaves changing colors, hiking in the early cool mornings, sipping hot cocoa, and visiting the local farmer’s market and pumpkin patch makes us very happy. We’ve been doing it every fall for 20 years! 

We made a goal to buy a house in North Carolina by our 20th wedding anniversary! Well, Clementine Cabin is almost finished and we’re sharing it with you as one of the best vacation rentals in Banner Elk, North Carolina! Yes, you can rent our vacation home! Hooray! 

So, if you’re looking for a little fall getaway, check out our mountain house and rent it yourself! 

Either way, here are my top 10 favorite activities that I’ve been dreaming about for a fall family trip. We’re sneaking away to North Carolina in the next several weeks:

  1. Staying at our favorite getaway (Clementine Cabin!)
  2. Wrapped up in a blanket sipping cocoa on the porch (listening to the creek!)
  3. Bouldering at Hebron Rock Colony
  4. New River pumpkin patch and corn maze
  5. Boone Farmer’s Market
  6. Sitting by the river at Banner Elk Winery
  7. Stopping to shop and antique in quaint little shops (they are everywhere!)
  8. Smores on the fire pit
  9. Caramel apples at Kilwin’s in Blowing Rock
  10. Grabbing a pretzel at Lost Province Brewing Co. 
  11. Shopping for stocking stuffers in Blowing Rock
  12. Mast General Store in Valle Crucis
  13. Apple Picking at The Historic Orchard at Altapass
  14. Dinner on the patio at Over Yonder
  15. Hiking, Hiking, Hiking
  16. The fall colors! Need I say more! 
  17. A picnic on the grass by the New River 
  18. Grabbing a Dutch Creek icecream
  19. Music in the Park at Valle Crucis
  20.  Spending time with the boys 

Do you have a fall family tradition that you look forward to? I would love to hear – leave a comment below!